April 2018 by Ji Li, published on Education Today BESA Corner

IT support service in schools emerged in the last decade of the 20th century, when so called multi-media computers, with Intel 386 processors and 500MB hard drives, equipped every classroom and ICT suite.

In the late 1990s, there were possibly no more than 70 computers in most primary schools, and a technician usually visited schools once a week or every other week, depending on the size of the school. In 2018, computers, tablets and other IT devices are everywhere in schools. Yet, the level of technical support has remained pretty much the same as 20 years ago. Is it because technology just works? Or because the quantity of digital devices has no impact on the level of technical support? One thing is sure though, when the number of classrooms increases or when buildings are extended, the level of cleaning service goes up accordingly. So why doesn’t IT support service?

Is it that technology works all the time? Are there not times when our teachers feel frustrated, perhaps that their interactive whiteboard stops working right before a lesson observation, or a programme does not load up as planned with a class full of children? Probably quite a few times, and the technician was likely not due to be onsite for another four days.

Digital devices are employed to reduce workload and increase productivity. When they do not work, do they add more stress and workload to our teachers? The quantity of digital devices in schools has hiked like Tesla’s stock price. Don’t schools want to have more quality technical support so that teachers can progress in their professional field with solid and working EdTech products?

Of course, schools would like to receive sufficient level of support. At the same time, they would also be very hesitant about the available budget to double or triple the support scale. So, the problem arises: have service providers tried hard enough to revolutionise the technical support model that has not changed in nearly 30 years? Do they care about education enough to change their mindset and provide a service that can fit in today’s economic climate and technological advancement?

At Plum Innovations, we do not want to view IT support simply in the context of maintenance. We have the ambition to revolutionise the school technical support model to ensure out schools are able to receive a full scale of technical support as well as affordability. We work tirelessly towards helping reinforce the positive impact of EdTech on pupils’ learning outcomes and reducing school staff workload.

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